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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Oct
2

Review: The Renfield Syndrome

Review: The Renfield Syndrome The Renfield Syndrome Author: J.A. Saare  Release Date: August 23, 2011 Publisher: Mundania Press Rhiannon’s Laws #2 ISBN: #978-1606592663 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (212 pgs), e-book Book Source: KLB Virtual Events About the book: Rhiannon thought facing off against a deranged child vampire was the most dangerous task she would ever have to undertake, but she’s about to discover making a deal with a demon is far, far worse. Sent forward into another reality, one in which vampires are now dominating nearly extinct humans, she realizes the sooner she returns to her vampire lover, Disco, the better. Unfortunately, time changes a lot of things; including those most trusted around her. When she’s faced with a loss and betrayal unlike any she has ever known, her focus shifts from severing the debt between the demon that wants to kill her, to exacting a revenge that will bring forth consequences she never could have fathomed. By reaching out to the darkness lingering within her, she’ll find the strength to push forward despite the circumstances that would see her dead and buried. After all, when it’s all said and done, all that she has left to lose is her soul. What I’m talking about: After I finished reading the first book in the Rhiannon’s Law series, Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between (review HERE), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Renfield Syndrome. Book 1 ended with a MAJOR cliff-hanger, taking our heroine, Rhiannon over 100 years into the future where a disease has wiped out much of the human population and vampires live out in the open.  Renfield picks up immediately after the conclusion of Dead. Due to the drastic changes between book 1 and 2, you can read Renfield as a stand-alone story, but I suggest starting with the first book to give you more background about the main characters. The story begins with Rhiannon trying to get her bearings after learning she has been thrust into the future as the result of making a deal with an evil demon. She is quickly captured by a group claiming to protect her from the vampires. Their leader, Carter, takes an immediate liking to Rhiannon and tries to convince her why she can’t be around the vampires. Carter’s compound seems more like a cult hideout. Everyone wears the same military uniform and there are strict rules governing their lives. Rhiannon tries to learn as much as possible without telling anyone...
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Sep
22

Review: The Vampire Files, Volume 4, Lady Crymsyn

Review: The Vampire Files, Volume 4, Lady Crymsyn The Vampire Files, Vol. 4 (Part I, Lady Crymsyn) Author: P.N. Elrod  Release Date: September 6, 2011 Publisher: Ace Trade Vampire Files Series, Book 9 ISBN: #978-0441020829 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (289 pp.), e-book Book Source: Publisher NOTE: The Vampire Files, Vol 4 is actually two novels, Lady Crymsyn & Cold Streets. This review is for Lady Crymsyn only.  About the book: In the latest Vampire Files omnibus, Jack Fleming now runs his own nightclub while remaining a reluctant player in the politics of gangland Chicago in the 1930s. And wherever vampires and mobsters mix, there will be blood… Jack uncovers the body of a good-time girl who went missing six years ago. And since her body was stashed in what is now Jack’s club, vampire or not, he won’t rest until her murderers are brought to justice… What B is talking about: Jack Fleming, P.I. has been excitedly working to get his new nightclub, Lady Crymsyn, ready for opening night. But when the crew he’s hired to complete construction on the basement of the property accidentally uncovers the remains of a woman who’d been buried alive, Jack thinks he’ll be lucky to open the club at all. Set in 1930’s Chicago, Lady Crymsyn is an entertaining take on traditional murder mysteries with the inclusion of an ambitious, but kind-hearted, vampire, Jack Fleming, in the mix. Elrod’s engaging whodunit is big on twists and turns, and following Jack along as he works through layer after layer of intrigue and deceit was a pleasure.  Elrod keeps quite a few traditional vampire traits for Jack (no reflection in mirrors, must sleep through the daylight hours, and so on), but has created enough differences to set them apart from most others in the genre. One of the more interesting being that since very few humans are able to survive the turning process, most older vampires tend to shy away from making too many for their own purposes.  Though it would probably have been easy to allow the borrowed clichés of the time period to dominate the novel’s dialog, Elrod succeeds in using it as an accent, never letting it becoming excessively obvious. There are a couple of characters that use it quite readily, but, given their personalities, it suits them. The result is a feeling of authenticity, rather than the air of a bad gangster movie.  Lady Crymsyn successfully combines mystery, suspense, and romance into an inventive take on the vampire...
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Sep
12

Review: Blood Rules

Review: Blood Rules Blood Rules Author: Christine Cody  Release Date: August 30, 2011 Publisher: Ace Fantasy Bloodlands Series Book 2 ISBN: 978-0441020768 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): paperback (320 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: In the Bloodlands, Sometimes the Monsters Don’t Even Know Themselves…. After the vampire named Gabriel came into her world, Mariah Lyander was forced to face her own true nature and admit to the terrible things she had done–things he could not forgive.  To redeem herself, to recover her own humanity—and Gabriel’s love—she sets out on a perilous journey across the haunted land, in search of a rumored cure. And Gabriel, blood-bonded to her, is compelled to follow.  Together—yet not together—they will face danger and death. And what they find is not a place where monsters can be cured—but one where they are born… What B is talking about: When her inability to control the beast within herself threatens the safety of her adopted Were-family, Mariah Lyander decides the best thing she can do for them, and herself, is to leave in search of a rumored cure. Her reluctant blood-mate, the vampire Gabriel, is compelled to come along, and what they discover will plant the seeds for an uprising for all their kind. This is the second book in the Bloodlands series, and it’s more intense, gory, and outright disturbing at times, than the first. What has happened to society in Cody’s book is truly unnerving. The “hubs” (settlements) are overrun with paranoid shut-ins, “distractoids,” and groups of “runners,” all mindless puppets of the government. In this version of the future, water is the only form of currency, and for some, selling themselves into slavery is the only way to get it.  In addition to the chaos of the hubs, the Shredder, Johnson Stamp, is still after Mariah and her “family,” and, though injured for much of the novel, he manages to stay alive to continue his pursuit. His survival, nevertheless, can be at least partially attributed to the conflicts between Mariah and Gabriel, as they battle their own natures and each other.  Once again highlighting the fact that Blood Rules is certainly not a romance is the ongoing relationship struggles of the two main characters. While Mariah and Gabriel can’t stay away from each other, they can also barely tolerate one another. The latter is truer of Gabriel than Mariah, but the distance between them is significant. By the end of the novel, though, they seem to...
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Aug
25

Review: Darkness Descending

Review: Darkness Descending Darkness Descending Author: Devyn Quinn Release Date: August 2011 Publisher: Signet Eclipse Vampire Armageddon Book 1 ISBN: 978-0451234339 Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (353 pages) Book Source: Publisher About the book: The first seal has been broken, signaling the end of days. Fallen angels in the form of vampires are infecting humans one by one, creating an army fit for Armageddon. Of the few who survive the infection, one stands alone above all others… For one year, Jesse Burke has been suppressing the beast within, driven by vengeance to destroy the vampiric fallen angels terrorizing New Orleans. But a war of biblical proportions is too much for one girl to handle, and she must turn to slayer Maddox deValois for training, though it threatens her fiercely-guarded independence. At the same time, the sinister demon Queen Amonate is doing everything in her power to lure Jesse into embracing the darkness inside her soul—a power play that will trap her in a deadly web of deception between the forces of good and evil… Before this war is over, everyone will learn that hell hath no fury like a woman possessed… What B is talking about: Jesse Burke has been living on the streets for a year, grieving the murder of her twin and fighting the unwelcome evil within herself. Overwhelmed by her need for vengeance, she vows to destroy the vampires who’ve ruined her life. Unfortunately, all of her knowledge of the undead comes from literature and movies, she’s alone, and even a good meal to keep her strength up is hard to come by in post-Katrina New Orleans. Maddox deValois is a Palindrome: a descendent of the angels themselves. They’ve been sent by the Enlightened One to help mankind survive the first plague of the apocalypse: vampires. Though there are two others like him to fight the demons in New Orleans, Maddox is a loner. Tired and battling his own grief, he harbors a dark secret, one that could get them all killed. There’s so much to like about this story, it’s hard to know where to start. Darkness Descending is very much an urban fantasy novel, the battle to save humanity and the darkness that envelops the characters taking a huge share of the spotlight. Thoroughly a romance novel as well, however, the growing affection between Jesse and Maddox is given its due as well, giving the story a well-balanced feel. Both main characters are flawed, but despite Jesse having been infected...
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Aug
24

Review: Shadowflame

Review: Shadowflame Shadowflame Author: Dianne Sylvan  Release Date: July 26, 2011 Publisher: Ace Novel of the Shadow World #2 ISBN:978-0441020652 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (360 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      It’s been three months since musician Miranda Grey became a vampire and married David Solomon, Prime of the South. As Queen, Miranda must quickly come to terms with her new role and learn how to negotiate the treacherous waters of Signet politics, inevitably making dangerous enemies along the way.      As if complicated vampire politics and a rising music career weren’t enough, an enigmatic but powerful force from David’s past appears, leaving a wake of chaos and uncertainty for the Pair’s fledgling relationship. Miranda begins to realize how little she really knows about her husband. But when an assassin begins targeting her friends and allies, the Pair must track down the killer, even as their lives hang in the balance… What G & U are talking about:      Shadowflame is the second novel in the exciting new Shadow World series.  It begins three months after the resolution of the first book Queen of the Shadows.  Due to the nature of the story and character development, and since there is only one book prior to this one, we recommend you read this series from the beginning.  Trust us, it is worth it.      The Shadow World is a world that exists within our own.  This is where vampires (and possibly … other things) exist.  Shadowflame is a gripping read as Miranda, the newly turned vampire and new Queen of the Southern Territory, tries to find her place and role within this world while still trying to hold on to some human ties.  There is a strong, grounded feel to this series, which allows the reader to truly lose herself in the storytelling.  The suspense of the action/mystery is expertly woven with the drama of the relationships.  It was very difficult for us to put it down.  The duality of the worlds and the interactions between them are fascinating and add to the richness of the story.      Some of the drama between Miranda and her Prime, David, is surprising.  We found it somewhat interesting, knowing how much “older” David is than Miranda, that they don’t spend more time getting to know each other and asking those “early relationship building” questions.  We understand that there are some secrets that people feel they must...
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Aug
19

Review: Black Night

Review: Black Night Black Night Author: Christina Henry  Release Date: July 26, 2011 Publisher: ACE Madeline Black #2 ISBN: #978-1937007065 Genre: Urban Fantacy Format(s): Paperback (288 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Madeline Black is an Agent of death, meaning she escorts the souls of people who have died to the afterlife. Of course, not everyone is happy to see her…        If obstinate dead people were all that Maddy had to worry about, life would be much easier. But the best-laid plans of Agents and fallen angels often go awry. Deaths are occurring contrary to the natural order, Maddy’s being stalked by foes inside and outside of her family, and her two loves-her bodyguard, Gabriel, and her doughnut-loving gargoyle, Beezle-have disappeared. But because Maddy is Lucifer’s granddaughter, things are expected of her, things like delicate diplomatic missions to other realms. What I’m talking about:       After reading Ms. Henry’s debut Black Wings (review HERE, purchase info: Black Wings), I couldn’t wait to find out what was in store for heroine, Maddy. When we last left Maddy, she had found out her “dead-beat dad” is actually Azazel and her grandfather is none other than Lucifer himself. She was in love with her bodyguard, Gabriel, but because of Lucifer’s laws, they are not allowed to be together-ever. Oh, and she’s engaged to some tight-ass fallen angel, Nathaniel, because her father said so.       Black Night picks up shortly after the conclusion of the first book. Once again, Ms. Henry packs in the action right away.  This time around, Maddy, Gabriel and gargoyle Beezle stumble across the gruesome murder of a werewolf and discover that a begrudged demon is out to kill Maddy (for murdering its father). Things progress quickly when Maddy’s mates disappear and she is forced to act as Lucifer’s ambassador to the fae kingdom of Queen Amarantha, who has quite a few nefarious plans of her own.       The book was another quick, enjoyable read. The plot moved swiftly and there was plenty of action and adventure.  The star-crossed romance was toned down quite a bit and new possibilities were brought forth.  I enjoyed the complications Queen Amarantha presented and loved that Maddy really came into her own this time around.  Not only did her powers grow, but she is learning how to maneuver this still-new-to-her world without losing herself or diminishing her priorities.       One thing that...
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Aug
10

Review: Bloodlands

Review: Bloodlands Bloodlands Author: Christine Cody  Release Date: July 26, 2011 Publisher: Ace Fantasy Bloodlands Book 1 ISBN: #978-0441020621 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: The New Badlands—a desolate area in the West forged by the terrible events that altered the entire country, where a few frightened citizens retreated underground to shelter from the brutal weather . . . and from a society gone deadly dangerous. Then the vampire arrived—and they started calling it the Bloodlands. Not because Gabriel, the so-called monster running from his true self, was searching for his lover’s murderer. Nor because Mariah, the woman who reluctantly took him in, was willing to do anything to survive in the changed world. No, the Badlands officially became the Bloodlands the moment a gun-for-hire who’d decided to slay every monster left in the country came after Gabriel . . . What B is talking about: Living in the New Badlands isn’t for the weak. It’s the only place left in what was the United States that isn’t under the control of a thoroughly corrupt government. It is the last place to go where there is still a chance at freedom away from dishonest men. For Mariah Lyander, it is her home and sanctuary. Having recently lost her father, she is quietly surviving among a small group of outcasts. But, when a stranger shows up begging for a place to rest while his injuries heal, Mariah takes him in. And her world crashes down around her as she never expected it to again.  Gabriel is a vampire in need of a safe haven. Following the trail of his lost love from the Southeastern part of the country to the New Badlands, he runs into some trouble of his own before trying to make a home for himself among the strangers who have taken him in. When a powerful enemy threatens his new neighbors, he must choose between running and fighting, and realizes he has more to lose than he bargained for.  I’m always excited when I get to read the first story in a new series, and this one didn’t disappoint. Like most novels in this genre, the focus is on the conflict within the plot, rather than the main characters’ chances of a happily ever after. Instead of detracting from the narrative, however, Cody’s restraint as a storyteller makes Bloodlands a compelling mystery as well. There are, however, many fictionalized warnings about where our society could be headed that...
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Aug
9

Review and Giveaway: Primal Law

Review and Giveaway: Primal Law Primal Law Author: J. D. Tyler   Release Date: August 2, 2011 Publisher: Signet Alpha Pack series #1 ISBN: #978-0451234346 Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Format(s): Paperback (352 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Founded by a group of former Navy SEALS, the Alpha Pack is a top-secret team of wolf shifters with Psy powers tasked with eliminating the most dangerous predators in the world. But the gift of their abilities comes at a price…       After a massacre decimates half his team and leaves him crippled, Jaxon Law must relearn how to fight—and battle the anger and guilt threatening to overwhelm him. But when he rescues a beautiful woman who reawakens his primal instincts, Jax is unprepared for the dangers that lie ahead.       On the run from her employer, brilliant lab assistant Kira Locke has evidence that leads the Alpha Pack on a hunt for someone targeting human civilians with Psy abilities. And as Jax and Kira circle both the killer and each other, Jax will have to decide if the deep connection he feels with Kira is worth breaking the ultimate shifter rule—because bonding with Kira means putting his abilities at risk, and they might be the only tools he has to keep his mate alive…  What G & U are talking about:       Primal Law is the debut novel in the Alpha Pack series by J.D. Tyler.  Gikany and Una had much discussion over this book and hope you enjoy our following review.       Una enjoyed Primal Law.  She considers it up there with her other guilty pleasures (Lora Leigh’s Breeds series and J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood).  For her, this is what she considers romantic-fluff fun.  It’s urban fantasy with a ribbon of romance running through it.  Oh, and don’t forget… lots of smexy moments, hot smexy moments are not missing in this story.  However, Gikany is right…there are a few issues…but for Una, they didn’t detract from her overall enjoyment of the novel (in fact, it was difficult for her to put down).       This is the first book in a series and like most, due to world-building and introducing all the main players, the overall story arc suffers.  Gikany wishes the author started the story with the team being changed in Afghanistan versus starting with the team’s betrayal which occurs years later (six months prior to where the main...
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Aug
1

ARC Review & Giveaway: Downpour

ARC Review & Giveaway: Downpour Downpour Author: Kat Richardson  Release Date: August 2, 2011 Publisher: Roc The Greywalker Novels #6 ISBN: #978-0451463982 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Hardcover (368 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      After being shot in the back and dying—again—Harper’s recovery has been hard. She’s lost a great many of the powers she’d acquired since first becoming a Greywalker, and Harper knows that if she dies again, she won’t be coming back.      Her only respite from the chaos is her work. But while conducting a pre-trial investigation in the Olympic Peninsula, she witnesses the ghostly echo of a fatal car accident for which there are no records. Worse still, the victim of the wreck insists he was actually murdered, and that the nearby mountain resort—called “Blood Lake” by locals—is to blame.      The picturesque area is as unlikely a haven for conspiracy and malignant magic as Harper’s ever seen. But she soon learns that the icy waters of the lake hide a terrible power, and a host of hellish beings. And both are held under the thrall of sinister mages who will use the darkest of arts to achieve their fiendish ends… What G & U are talking about:      Downpour is the sixth book in the Greywalker Novels.  Let us first say that Una has not read any of the previous books, however, Gikany was able to read the first book in the series.  Even though there are references to previous experiences and moments, we feel it isn’t necessary to read the first five books to enjoy this one.  However, to get the full impact of the series, we would recommend starting from the beginning.      Downpour starts off with our heroine, Harper Blaine, doing some less than fabulous legwork for a pretrial hearing.  During the course of this, she runs across some strange creatures and power lines in the Grey. The Grey is an alternate, paranormal dimension that Harper can experience and witness ever since she died (in a previous novel). These events cause her to take a deeper look into her surroundings, which leads her to a ghost and a murder mystery.  What could be classified as a straight-laced detective drama/mystery is made more suspenseful and engaging with the element of the paranormal.  It creates a thoroughly grounded but surreal urban fantasy.      Gikany and Una enjoyed Downpour.  The mythology is very interesting and the way the paranormal is...
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Jul
26

Review: Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

Review: Grave Dance by Kalayna Price Grave Dance Author: Kalayna Price Release Date: July 5, 2011 Publisher: ROC Alex Craft Novels #2 ISBN: #978-0451464095 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (371 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft. After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge. The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own. What G & U are talking about: Grave Dance is the second novel in the Alex Craft Novels. Una was not able to read the first book however Gikany (to the rescue) was able to. After conferring, Gikany and Una agree, it is best to read the first book, Grave Witch. There are quite a few plot points that are referred to in this book that occurred in the first book, along with relationships that have bearing in the second book. It isn’t necessary, but we feel that to fully enjoy Grave Dance you need to have invested the time in understanding some of the characters and you will get that if you read the first book. For a small non-spoiler example, it took Una a bit of time to realize that one of Alex’s roommates is a fae, something that was established in the previous book and is important to the storytelling. Not to mention a good bit of Alex’s background is revealed. Grave Dance begins a month after Grave Witch ends. From the moment the story begins, Una was hooked. The story was paced well and the balance of the detective/mystery unfolds nicely with the...
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